Blog Process

UNLV Continuing Education is providing this blog to share views on select continuing education courses and discussion on related topics.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Spotlight Course: Effective Volunteer Management

Nonprofit professionals at all levels of the organization interface with volunteers. From the board members who steer your mission to the event volunteers who handle logistics, your volunteers are some of your most valuable assets, allowing you to accomplish so much more that you could with paid staff alone.

UNLV Continuing Education is offering Effective Volunteer Management on Nov. 2 and 9. The course is led by Scott Emerson, American Red Cross Regional COO (Nevada and Utah) and Executive Director (S. Nevada). Scott began his long relationship with American Red Cross as a youth and volunteered for a dozen years before becoming an employee. He has had a team of over 1,000 volunteers support the efforts of American Red Cross under his leadership. He volunteers his time and expertise as a board member for Golden Rainbow and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Southern Nevada. Learn more about Scott here:

So what does instructor Scott Emerson have in store for you at his upcoming class? He will offer concrete ideas to effectively find, manage, maximize, and reward this unique workforce. On numerous fronts, volunteers need many of the same things paid staff members need. They thrive with respect, training, supervision, clear expectations, actionable feedback, and rewarding assignments. Volunteer programs can quickly veer off course, however, when we fail to address all the ways volunteers do not conform to the standard employee model.

Nonprofits need to find ways to create opportunities that are both useful to the organization and meaningful for volunteers. The class will help you work through key questions about whether your group is ready to utilize volunteers. Have you defined jobs volunteers can tackle? Have you thought through liability issues? Who will supervise and train your volunteers? Thinking about these questions before you post your first call for help will pay off in the long run and helps both staff and volunteers understand expectations. Need help assessing your organizational readiness? You need this class!

Volunteer managers must invest extra time up front into making sure they’ve made the right match of person to task via the application and screening process. As much as possible, get to know your volunteers’ interests and skills, and find out what brought them to your organization. Knowing their motivation will help you keep volunteers engaged and reduce turnover and training in the long run. Want tools to help with the application, screening, and matching process? Scott has tips to share!

Volunteers are motivated by work they find meaningful; they want to see their time commitment translate into positive impact for a cause with which they connect. The roles volunteers perform are many—program support, leadership and vision, fundraising, outreach. Your volunteers will come to you with a broad range of pre-existing skills. Some may have done similar work for years; others see volunteering as a chance to build skills that will translate to the workplace down the road. Show all your people you value their time and effort by investing in consistent, high-quality training. Ready to collaborate? Come ready to share training ideas that are working for you!

Rewarding volunteers is a topic unto itself, but Scott will definitely address it. Volunteers might enjoy a big annual celebration, or they may prefer getting more frequent reminders of how what they are doing directly impacts your mission. Certainly all appreciate a personal “Thank you.” Budgets big and small, there are reward ideas to fit them all!

Here’s where we’re at in Nevada. 19.4 percent of Nevadans volunteer, compared to a national average of 25.3 percent; this ranks our state 49th out of all states plus Washington, D.C. We can either get discouraged about this, or decide that we have a tremendous capacity for growth. With effective volunteer management practices in place, local nonprofits, schools, and government programs can move our ranking higher. When you look at the volunteer retention rate in Nevada, 64.5 percent, the state ranks far higher at number 22; this suggests many local nonprofits are on the right track when it comes to retention efforts. Join us for Effective Volunteer Management and commit to having a positive impact on these statistics for our state and local community!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Q&A with Chef Les Kincaid

Chef Les Kincaid has been teaching for UNLV Continuing Education for about 25 years. His classes have been so popular that Chef Kincaid has built quite a dedicated following. We talked with chef to get his thoughts on how to entice and motivate students to take his food & beverage classes.

How do you select a class to teach?
By questions, suggestions, and input from the students and other food loving acquaintances.

What do you want your students to learn when they leave your class…the one thing to walk away with?
That they take away new ideas, thoughts and techniques that I teach in class as well as the handouts I give them. Because having meatloaf every Thursday gets boring.

Why do you like to teach the classes that you teach?
The students. They bring the uniqueness and a je ne sais quoi to the class and have a sincere interest in upgrading their culinary prowess.

If you had one ingredient to choose from, what would be your favorite to cook with?
I can’t answer that question (laughing), because you can’t just cook with just one ingredient in a recipe.

Chef Kincaid’s cooking classes are held at Ferguson Enterprises. Other classes are offered at the UNLV Paradise Campus when appropriate.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Car Care 101

I'm not sure if it’s a generational thing, regional thing or something else altogether. Growing up in Ohio as a child of the 80s, my dad made sure I knew the basics of car care. At the time I had no clue why, but now it’s become obvious. Cars are expensive; car care is expensive, too. Not to mention if you get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere at an ungodly hour, you want to be able to change tires and get home.

I have a ton of respect for car people, but please don’t think I’m one of them. I know very little about car makes and models. I say that because I consider myself an average Joe when it comes to automobiles. I just got lucky that my dad taught me the basics like changing a flat tire, switching out car batteries, and checking the oil. Because of this foundation, though, I learned I could do even more basic care, like change spark plugs, headlight lamps and even brake pads and rotors. Over time, all this self repair added up to great savings.

But as an adult, how can someone learn these basics, short of hanging out at with a mechanic all day long? Luckily, UNLV Continuing Education is offering Car Care 101. Sure, it can be intimidating to step foot into the gearhead culture, but that’s the beauty of a class like this. Only the instructor is an expert while everyone else is there to learn the same basics. Specifically in this class, you can expect to prolong the life of your car with routine preventative care as well as the fundamentals of maintenance.

To learn more about our Car Care classes, visit our online catalog -

Monday, February 2, 2015

Classes We Love for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day is right around the corner; have you made plans? Dinner is nice, but perhaps we can suggest some new ways to spend time with your sweetheart on this day dedicated to those we love.

French I
Ah, la langue d’amour! If you would love to tell a special someone how much you care en Fran├žais, why not start French lessons on Valentine’s Day? Since life isn’t all romance, we promise you will also learn more practical phrases and vocabulary for travel and everyday conversation.
Sat | Feb 14-May 2* | 9:30-11:30am | $199 | PAR 301 | 151LA1107
*Class does not meet March 28 or April 4.

CPR/AED & First Aid
Valentine’s Day turns our thoughts to all things heart-related—like CPR! Training from the American Heart Association will get you ready to respond quickly and confidently in case someone you love (or even a total stranger) has a medical emergency.
Sat | Feb 14 | 9am-2:30pm | $89 | PAR 302 | 151HE1101A

Decadent Chocolate & Wine Pairing
This class practically screams, “Valentine’s date night.” Chef Les Kincaid will teach you to properly pair chocolates and wines by taste, texture, and intensity for heightened enjoyment. You will be able to practice what you learned a few days later on Valentine’s Day!
Wed | Feb 11 | 6-8:30pm | $69 | Total Wine & More Summerlin | 151HA1135

Best of Red Rock Canyon
The rocks are red,
The sky is blue,
Come hike and learn,
Bring your sweetheart too.
Spend the day learning about the geology, history, hydrology, and archaeology of stunning Red Rock National Conservation area with a geologist/naturalist guide. This will be an ideal Valentine’s day outing for nature lovers!
Sat | Feb 14 | 8am-2pm | $95 | Meet at PAR back parking lot | 151EX1247

As a reward for reading this blog post and checking out all these great program options, here's a secret little Valentine's Day tip from a gal who grew up in "Sweetheart City," Loveland, CO. If you plan in advance and send your valentines to the Loveland Valentine Remailing Program, they will imprint your envelope with a Valentine poem and a "From Loveland with Love" stamp cancellation, then send it along to its final destination. Every year more than 100,000 valentines are processed through the program. Other than the stamp to mail your cards to Loveland, there is no cost to do this! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What to do with your tax return? Invest in your career!

The arrival of the first W2 near the end of January symbolizes the start of tax season at my house. We get out a fresh file folder and begin to assemble forms, receipts, and other documentation.

I love the instant gratification of self-service tax preparation software. Within minutes we can have a sense of whether we owe taxes or if we will get a return.

Sometimes, the news is not great and we bust out our checkbook. On these years we wait until the bitter end to fork money over.

By contrast, if calculations confirm we’re getting a tax return, we happily file early and eagerly await the transfer into our bank account. The obvious next step is to start dreaming about how we’ll spend this unplanned windfall…

We could treat ourselves to items we want but really don’t need. While fun for the short term, I’m afraid this course of action doesn't do us any long term financial good.

But line 21 of my 1040 Schedule A has me thinking of another option for spending a refund: investing in work training! According to the IRS, if I itemize my deductions, training to enhance my current career may be tax deductible! I’m thinking this is a positive financial double-whammy. As my skills improve, so will my value to my employer. Then, on my 2015 taxes, I can write off fees, books, and possibly even mileage and travel expenses.

And now for a shameless plug: did you know UNLV Continuing Education offers more than 25 professional development programs to help you enhance your career skills? How about using your tax return to boost your career in one of the well-performing sectors of the Las Vegas economy, like hospitality, transportation, health, and professional and business services? If you meet all the IRS's criteria, you may even be able to deduct your professional training expenses next year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Give the Gift of Learning this Season

The holidays bring out our generosity as we seek to find the perfect gift for our families and friends. There is always a point during the season, for me at least, when I am stumped on what to get for the person on my list who has everything.

Rather than buy one more item to clutter an already overflowing closet, how about giving an experience? That could mean movie tickets, dinner out, a spa day, or, because this is UNLV Continuing Education after all, how about a class? CE’s new Spring 2015 course catalog is packed full with classes to take just for fun that will appeal to a broad range of people on your list.

My parameters for this list were as follows. The class had to start in January or February so the recipient wouldn’t have long to wait. The price point had to be under $150 (except for the one where you get to take the controls of a plane or helicopter—totally worth a little budget busting!). The class had to look either very useful or very fun. It wasn’t possible for me to include everything that looked awesome, so no more than one class per section of the catalog; I cheated by adding a runner up in the music category because self-imposed rules were made to be broken.

New Drivers: Car Care 101 (begins Feb. 11, $39)
Stop car trouble before it starts by doing your own preventative maintenance. At the very least, they will appear marginally intelligent when they have to talk to the repair technician!

Thrill-Seeker: Introductory Airplane or Helicopter Flight (Scheduled at your convenience, $169)
I’m intrigued by this one. After a one-on-one ground school briefing, the student will take the controls of a Cessna 172 airplane or Robinson R22 helicopter while flying high above Las Vegas. This is a special offer through the host of our new Private Pilot Certification program.

Pet Lover: Pet First Aid & CPR (begins Feb. 26, $89)
The thought of mouth-to-mouth with a dog is gross, but I’d do it if it were a matter of life or death. More likely, pet-parents ought to know what to do when their furry friend slices a paw on a knife while stealing food from the counter.

Shutterbug: Cell Phone Photography (begins Feb. 28, $59)
Instagram can rescue many-a marginal photo, but imagine the time you could save by getting the right shot in the first place.

Budding Artist: Paint Like the Old World Masters (Jan. 24, $149)
Paint Like the Old World Masters is my top choice to gift to an artist because it offers something for both novice and proficient artists. Your artist friends may have read about camera obscura and underpainting, but have they ever tried it? There are so many other amazing choices among our art offerings—acrylics, collage, silk painting, and watercolors also begin in January or February.

Music Lover: Beginning Guitar (begins Feb. 3, $99) 
Runner up: Blowin' the Blues Harmonica (begins Jan. 21, $139)
Wouldn’t it be cool to have someone who could play the guitar or harmonica around the campfire next summer? If someone gave this gift to me, I’d know it was because they would rather hear me play than sing.

Drinking Buddy: Home Brew Workshop (Feb. 19, $69)
If you gift this class to a friend and he or she gets really good at crafting home brews, guess who will probably get invited to come over for taste tests?

Gift certificates for Continuing Education classes are available in any denomination. Call 702-895-3394 or stop by the Paradise campus office to inquire.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Value of Professional Certificates for Veterans and Service Members

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we thank and honor all who have served in the armed forces. UNLV has been a consistent supporter of active duty, veteran, and military family members. The university recently resumed undergraduate classes at Nellis Air Force Base. It also has been recognized as a military friendly school for the past five years. 

The Division of Educational Outreach has worked to expand learning opportunities for those in the community, including the military, which is quite evident when viewing the professional development certificate programs in Continuing Education. There are more than 20 certificate programs to consider from android development to protective services.

One might ask what do veterans and service members gain from earning a certificate? I recently read an article where former military personnel discussed the value of a certificate program.
  1. Show what you know. A certificate in a specific subject shows employers you have completed the necessary training in this area.
  2.  New knowledge has power. A certificate provides "recent and relevant education in terms that a civilian employer looks for.”
  3. Time is on your side. A certificate can be completed in six months. Plus you can apply what you have just learned from a certificate program on the job right away.
  4. So many choices. There are many certificates for veterans and service members to choose from, with human resources being one that should be seriously considered.
  5. Leader of the pack. Veterans and service members are unique job candidates, and the right certification could separate you from the rest of the pack.
Dan Munson, senior director of Six Sigma Programs - Online at Villanova University, believes certificates provide an application of knowledge that has power. "The world views veterans as individuals who have learned attention to detail, teamwork, respect for hierarchy, work ethic, and an appreciation for the notion of 'rank has its privilege,' “ Munson said. "Add to that a certificate or two, coupled with an applicable degree and the veteran has a higher probability of being a part of the stack - the short list - when being considered for a position."

If you are a veteran or service member, visit to view a list of the comprehensive, career-oriented courses and certificate programs offered at UNLV Continuing Education. Also, check out our Spring/Summer 2015 catalog later this week to learn more about the new certificate programs in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones), Nurse Paralegal, Private Airplane or Helicopter Pilot, and National Academy of Sports Medicine certifications in corrective exercise and fitness nutrition.